Since its been several weeks since our last post in the series “How You Can Help Your Church Be a Force for God” we thought a brief review might keep you from feeling like you’re coming into the movie twenty minutes late.
We saw in part one of this four-part series that it’s by super-sizing your prayers that you can help your Church become a force for God. You super-size your prayers by adding biblical prayers to your regular praying. Biblical prayers are the prayers you find in the Bible. Scripture’s as full of them as the sky’s crowded with stars on a cloudless night. One of the most important of these is in Ephesians 1:15-23. Pray this prayer sincerely and regularly for your congregation and you’ll help it become Samson-strong in the Lord’s hands.
In part two, we began looking at a crucial super-sized prayer that your Heavenly Father wants you to pray for your church. He wants you to cry to him to unleash the influence of the Holy Spirit in its life.
Still, as important as this request is, it’s not enough by itself. The poet William Blake says that those who would do good to others must do so in “Minute Particulars.” Details, you see. So, if you would do your church the good of helping it become a force for God you must ask for the influence of the Holy Spirit in specific ways.
The remainder of the prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23 gives you the Minute Particulars of the Spirit’s influence that you’re to ask the Father to give your church. There are three of them. Each is a super-sized request. We look now at the first two.
Minute Particular One is the super-sized request that God would cause the Holy Spirit to help everyone in your church get to know him as well as Paul knew Jesus. J. I. Packer tells of a friend whose academic career had been stalled because he was a Christian. The university officials wouldn’t promote him because he believed in Jesus. Packer was consoling him. The man said, “It’s okay. I know God and they don’t.”
Now, my friends, there’s nothing like being able to say that. And God wants that for the people in your church. How do you get better acquainted with God? Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Scot preacher Robert M. McCheyne’s constant prayer was, “Lord, help me to be as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.” Our constant prayer ought to be, “Father, send your Spirit to us so that we can get to know you as well as pardoned sinners who are now your sons and daughters can.”
Minute Particular Two is the super-sized request that God would cause the Holy Spirit to help everyone in your church to become confident of the great future he’s got in store for them.
Have you ever heard of Florence Chadwick? She was the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. She decided to match that feat by swimming from Catalina Island to the shore of mainland California. The day of the swim was cold and so London-like foggy that Florence could barely see the boats accompanying her. After fifteen hours in the water (!) she’s begging to be taken out. Her trainer tells her to keep swimming because she’s close to finishing. Exhausted, depleted, shivering, Florence becomes as motionless as a log. Her friends have no choice but to pull her into a boat.
Here’s the kicker. Florence was a half-mile from victory. Half a mile from an Olympic gold-like accomplishment! At a news conference the next day she explains that she was cold and tired and asked to be pulled out. But, she said, “I think I would have made it if I could have seen the shore.”
Now, sometimes living for Jesus is like swimming for a long time in cold water isn’t it? You want to quit. What can keep you going? Seeing the shore. We’ve got a shore we’re swimming to. It’s called here “the hope to which we’re called and the glorious riches of our inheritance.” This is the place called heaven until Jesus comes back and the place called the New Earth after he comes back (Philippians 1:20-23, 2 Peter 3:13). In heaven and on the New Earth we’ll be perfectly and permanently happy because God will make us perfectly and permanently like Jesus (Revelation 21:4, 1 John 3:3, Philippians 3:20-21).
It’s seeing this shore called the New Earth that can keep us swimming in the sometimes freezing water of faithfulness to Jesus. The bible calls continuing to swim when we want to quit “steadfastness” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). It tells us this steadfastness comes from “hope” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). And hope is seeing the shore! Hope is being persuaded that no matter how painful following Jesus is it will lead us ultimately to that happiness that’s perfect and permanent. How we need this hope! How can we get it? By praying, “Heavenly Father, cause your Holy Spirit to convince us that what you have waiting for us will more than repay us for whatever it costs to be faithful to Jesus now. Father, cause your Spirit to help us see the shore.”
Ask and Ask and Ask
Christian, include these super-sized requests with the one asking for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your church. Ask the Father to cause the Holy Spirit to help you and your brothers and sisters to get to know him better and to assure you that perfect and permanent happiness is waiting for you and them. Ask and ask and ask. Take the church roll and every day pray these Minute Particulars for a handful of the people you worship with every Sunday. Once you’ve gone through the roll, start over and go through it again. And again. And again. Start doing that and you’ll start super-sizing your prayers. Start super-sizing your prayers and you’ll become someone who helps your church become a force for God.
THERE’S ONE MORE SUPER-SIZED REQUEST TO COME!